Upside-down Pipefish Click to enlarge image
An Upside-down Pipefish at a depth of 12 m, Fly Point Marine Reserve, Port Stephens, New South Wales, April 2007. Image: David and Leanne Atkinson
© David and Leanne Atkinson

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    nocturna
    Genus
    Heraldia
    Family
    Syngnathidae
    Order
    Syngnathiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The Upside-down Pipefish grows to 10 cm in length.

Introduction

The Upside-down Pipefish can be recognised by its very large caudal fin with incised membrane, and raised body ridges along the body. There are two distinct forms. The east coast form (see images) is recorded from northern to southern New South Wales. It is dark brown to black with or without pale blotches. The south coast form is a mottled yellow-brown with light markings and a smaller caudal fin.

Identification

The Upside-down Pipefish can be recognised by its very large caudal fin with incised membrane, and raised body ridges along the body.

There are two distinct forms. The east coast form (see images) is recorded from northern to southern New South Wales. It is dark brown to black with or without pale blotches. The south coast form is a mottled yellow-brown with light markings and a smaller caudal fin.

Heraldia nocturna was described by Australian Museum Research Fellow, Dr J. Paxton in 1975. The holotype is registered in the Australian Museum Fish Collection (AMS I.17328-001).

Habitat

It lives in protected bays and estuaries down to a depth of about 20 m, where it is usually seen in pairs in caves and under ledges. It is often seen swimming upside-down, hence the common name.

Distribution

It occurs from the central coast of Victoria to southern Western Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



References

  • Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437.
  • Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  • Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes. TMC Publishing Pp. 240.
  • Paxton, J.R. 1975. Heraldia nocturna, a new genus and species of pipefish (family Syngnathidae) from eastern Australia with comments on Maroubra perserrata Whitley. Proceedings of the California Academy of Science, 40 (15):439-447.